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Mo(o)re speed less haste

CIE looks at how one UK logistics company is looking to address the needs of its customers at a time when their lengthening supply lines are putting a premium on being both fast and flexible


n observation by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore in 1965 highlighted that the number of transistors in a given space would double every year, whilst the speed of each transistor would increase and the cost decrease. ‘Moore’s Law’ - as it came to be known - has proven to be an uncannily prescient remark, bringing growth and wealth to many electronics and associated companies worldwide.

Enhancements, real and perceived, to

processes that have an impact on speed to market have entered every sector of the commercial world – driving the insatiable demands of businesses today. While RFID tags, broadband networks, overnight deliveries and just-in-time processes help improve the way companies get products to market, it is not the end of the story, a story that demands that all forward thinking and successful companies have looked to address in their own particular ways.

For firms such as Redhead International, one of the UK’s largest independent logistics companies, this has meant adopting a two pronged approach to effectively meet these challenges. Creating an export infrastructure that delivers exceptional customer service, allied to responsive and adaptable core practices. “Given that a good number of our customers are in, or linked to, the electronics industry has meant that the quality and immediacy of our service has been of paramount importance to the

34 September 2011

majority of firms” said Austin Duffy, Redhead’s marketing manager. As supply chains become ever more elongated, with timescales more truncated, each element of the service has to be scrutinised to ensure that it is achieving optimum efficiency. It is even more important in the current straitened times where rising fuel costs and insurance premiums place greater financial demands on logistics companies. The economic downturn and resultant fiscal conservatism for all involved in the logistical sector - be they client or operator – means the supply chain has to be a well oiled machine and able to meet the often conflicting demands of the market. Cost versus service. Customers can afford to be both demanding and particular, demanding a service that is swift, dependable, friendly, accommodating, of high quality and at the lowest price. A complex question but one that demands a thoughtful answer!

Keeping costs to a minimum However, by optimising journey cycles and keeping freight miles as low as possible, Redhead have managed to keep customer costs at a minimum. Allied to these practices and in light of the increasing need for supply chain speed, security and reliability for the electronics sector, Redhead has also implemented a number of measures to ensure the physical security of each and every consignment. From the moment a customer’s consignment is collected, to delivery at its

Components in Electronics

ultimate destination, Redhead and their network partners, keep an attentive watch on its progress throughout the supply chain to ensure safe and secure delivery. It is a combined human and electronic watch – giving the best of both worlds – and ultimately peace of mind during transit. For a number of electronics companies the economic downturn has provided a catalyst for assessing their supply chains and systems, with many looking to implement visibility of demand forecasting. Because customers cannot always accurately predict demand, suppliers have often had to carry excessive and unnecessary stock. The insights gained from adopting such methodology and its ability to produce accurate forward forecasts helps reduce inventory levels and improve production scheduling in line with customer demand. Such a tack lowers the dependence on air-freight and allows them to identify opportunities to improve efficiency and cost savings through the use of other modes of transport. As clients look for companies to manage and control every aspect of a consignment handling, logistics companies have responded by developing flexible working structures and forging strategic partnerships that have allowed them to tailor their services to the requirements of each client.

Flexible working practices As an example of this approach Redhead recently joined forces with Online Systemlogistik of Germany. According to Duffy “We wanted to continue delivering the quality of customer service and system flexibility our clients already experience but understood that the longer the supply chain the more problematic this can be. It is therefore often good to have someone in the field. Someone with a wealth of territorial knowledge and experience and Online Systemlogistik perfectly fitted the bill”. Using Germany as a platform for deliveries to both Western and Eastern Europe has allowed the company to

broaden its operating footprint and deliver a swift, reliable and flexible 48 hr Europe- wide service with confidence. The expansion of their areas of activity has been assisted by Online Systemlogistik’s well established operational network. A network that flows through their four regional hubs – two in central Germany and one in the north and south - with a combined cargo area of some 14,300 square metres, which allows the shipments to be sorted according to destination and re-distributed on a same day service.

Countering the counterfeiters The ‘perfect’ element of business demands often involves the implementation of practices that minimise the threat of counterfeit and illegal components and operations. Counterfeiters practices decrease customer satisfaction and increase costs for legitimate manufacturers. Practices such as insistences on documentary evidence of authenticity and the general ethos of preventative measures employed by the electronics industry have naturally fed into Redhead’s operating procedures. It is in responding to the questions and

pressures posed by industries response to growing corporate needs that has allowed Redhead to promote an evolving operational platform that is capable of delivering a level of service that meets customer expectations. It is an approach that companies operating within Europe, Ireland and the British Isles could follow – developing practices and relationships that allow for the lengthening of supply lines with no commensurate drop off service – especially in respect of flexibility and importantly speed of delivery.

In a ‘speeding’ world this could be the formula that keeps a firm on the road to success. n

Redhead International |

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